Preparing your construction site for winter

This guide outlines steps for preparing construction projects for winter, focusing on worker safety, equipment maintenance, and using appropriate accessories; emphasizing the importance of preparation and adaptation for successful winter construction.

Explore a career in crane operation with insights from BC Crane Safety’s webinar, covering certification, safety, and industry growth.

NAVIS Wind Safety

Wind has always been dangerous where heavy equipment is operated. Not only are there life-and-death safety concerns, but wind speed and direction can also contribute to rendering machinery inefficient.

That’s why Bigfoot Crane has been working closely with NAVIS Elektronika, a world leader in anemometers.

Together, the two companies have developed the latest technology in wind monitoring for customers who depend on it to keep workers and workplaces safe and efficient.

For the past three years, as NAVIS’ exclusive partner in North America, Bigfoot has been delivering increased safety and peace of mind to customers from British Columbia to Florida. Our NAVIS products have become essential tools on some of the most challenging job sites in several industries.

NAVIS’ passion for improving those products recently catapulted wind monitoring to the next level: the ability to monitor sensors from anywhere on earth via the internet. 

NAVIS Wind Safety

It Started with Cranes

Bigfoot Crane’s primary interest in anemometers has been to ensure safety. Crane operators need to monitor wind speeds in real time so they can abide by the rules and take precautions.

“There are regulations,” said Clayton Loiselle, inside sales at Bigfoot, who has been selling NAVIS products for years. “If you’re operating construction hoists and wind speeds exceed 60 kilometers an hour, you have to shut down. If you’re running a tower crane, it’s 50 kilometers.”

For example, Phoenix Fabricators and Erectors (Indiana, USA) were lifting a massive water tank in limited space next to a high school (view the case study here), so wind monitoring was essential. “On lift day, we relied solely on the NAVIS system,” said engineer Kurt Fuller. “It was the deciding factor for us, and it performed perfectly.”

For safety and productivity, Bigfoot has been putting NAVIS anemometers into the hands of as many crane operators and owners as possible, and everyone loves them.

When Ryan Burton, managing director of Bigfoot, tested the NAVIS system, he could hardly believe that it was so reliable, simple, and affordable.

“We knew immediately that this was a game changer,” said  Burton. “There was clearly nothing better. For the safety and benefit of crane operators, I wanted to get these systems in circulation. So we asked NAVIS if Bigfoot could be its exclusive partner in North America. They said yes, and we went to work together.”

Gerry Wiebe, marketing manager at Bigfoot, said, “When we found NAVIS, no other company could compete. Their products are that good, and they keep getting better.”

NAVIS Wind Safety

Simple, Standard Systems

NAVIS’ systems are affordable, easy to use, and accurate. Every system has two basic components: a sensor and a display.

“The sensor goes where the wind is, which is sometimes pretty hard to access,” said Loiselle, “but installation has never been easier.”

NAVIS and Bigfoot’s wireless sensors can be assembled and installed in seconds, thanks to a magnetic bracket. All sensors come with an optional attachment to gauge wind direction. The basic wireless sensor is compatible with any NAVIS display.

The variety comes mostly through different displays. After years of fine tuning, NAVIS displays offer options that make work easier and cater to particular needs.

Responsive, Agile Development

Every innovation has come from customer feedback. Whether it’s a hard-wired electrical connection, battery power, or some specific option, NAVIS can do it.

If you prefer to monitor data on a smartphone or tablet, that option is available through a Bluetooth connection. The app is free and easy to use. If a site prohibits smartphones, NAVIS has displays with radio connections.

Bigfoot now offers at least five NAVIS systems to meet the varied needs of customers in construction and other industries.

“As we worked with NAVIS to develop anemometers for cranes,” said Loiselle, “we realized the units are also useful for wind farms, film crews, artillery experts, sports stadiums, fountain displays, and even factories with smoke stacks — anyone affected by wind.”

Crane operators need immediate wind data so they can shut down their equipment as winds reach dangerous speeds. Other clients, like wind farms, need to study wind patterns over time in order to prepare proposals. That’s why different NAVIS systems from Bigfoot cater to the different needs.

NAVIS Wind Safety

Some displays have simple audio and visual alarms. Others can be programmed to shut off machinery or trigger an adaption.

For example, when the NAVIS system at a coal-burning factory in Saskatchewan detects that the wind is sending emissions toward the nearby town, it immediately triggers the factory to switch to cleaner-burning natural gas.

If the factory needed to produce a report on how often the wind triggered that action, the NAVIS system could record the data onto an SD card for downloading into a computer as a CSV file.

In the past year, NAVIS and Bigfoot added a new and important feature to the list…

Remote Real-Time Monitoring

Until late 2019, wind data was accessible only on site with NAVIS products. The sensor and display needed to be within range of a radio signal or Bluetooth connection.

The data could be logged, saved, and shared, but you couldn’t access it immediately from elsewhere. Then customers who had their safety officers in remote locations or who wanted to monitor multiple locations asked for a solution.

When NAVIS released its W410-XL in late 2019, it changed the game for wind safety.

“The XL does it all,” said Gerry Wiebe. “It has the sensor, display, smartphone capability, SD card storage, and now internet connectivity.”

Loiselle agreed, “They’ve made it so easy. An internet connection sends all the data to, and you can access your account from anywhere in the world at any time.”

Loiselle also said, “For a safety and study tool like this, it’s incredibly affordable.”

According to Wiebe, “It was already an award-winning system. Now, the internet connectivity takes it to a whole new playing field. The best system just got better.”

**This article was previously published in Crane Hotline, October 2020.

West Shore Constructors

West Shore Constructors have been using Boscaro products purchased from Bigfoot for some of the biggest challenges they’ve faced at Neptune Terminal, a billion-dollar project in North Vancouver.

“We work in some pretty challenging environments,” said Brian Casper, Construction Superintendent with West Shore Constructors. “So we need equipment that we can rely on to be durable and safe. That’s why we work closely with Bigfoot.”

West Shore has been a leader in Western Canada’s heavy construction industry for more than fifty years. They are known for their outstanding work in bridge building, pile driving, marine construction, and industrial transport. “We’re not a huge company,” said Supervisor Michael Kobelka, “but we have a lot of machinery and equipment, so we can pretty much handle anything.”

In 2020, West Shore has been a part of a billion-dollar construction project at North Vancouver’s Neptune Terminal, where they have been using some very specialized equipment from Bigfoot’s Boscaro line of products.

Working in Cofferdam Cells

“At Neptune, we were asked to build a massive cofferdam for the new coal dumper,” explained Kobelka. “When it’s all finished, they will be able to bring two rail cars at a time directly over the pit, where they’ll be flipped upside down to dump out the coal. Then the conveyors will load the ships. It’s a huge project.”

West Shore has been building the cofferdam with multiple cells, driving in piles almost one meter in diameter, interlocking all the way around the perimeter. The main cell needed to be almost twenty meters deep and twenty meters wide. “We started digging from the top with our excavators, but we couldn’t go very far down because it’s such a big cell,” said Casper. “So we had to lower the excavators inside the cell with our cranes, but we still needed a way to get the material out.”

The solution was a Boscaro self-dumping bin that West Shore had purchased from Bigfoot. They could simply lower the bin into the hole, fill it with material and then lift it straight out.

“We’ve been using that dumping bin constantly on this project,” said Casper, “and we’ve probably hoisted out about 150,000 meters of material with it. It’s been invaluable.”

Self-Dumping Bin & Spreader Bar

History with Bigfoot

West Shore has been dealing with Bigfoot for years as a supplier of quality products for both rental and purchase, but Kobelka and Casper both got to know Bigfoot initially through it’s training programs.

“Most of our guys at West Shore have gone through Bigfoot’s rigging courses,” said Kobelka. “For guys like us who have been in the industry for more than thirty years and have attended multiple training sessions, I can honestly say that those courses at Bigfoot are some of the best I’ve ever taken.”

Whether through the training courses or through years of steady business-to-business sales and service, West Shore and Bigfoot have developed a strong relationship of trust. “Now, when we need a new product, we’ll call Bigfoot right away or we’ll go to their website,” said Casper. “And if they don’t have what we need, they always talk to us straight and refer us to someone else who can help. We appreciate that kind of honesty and integrity.”

“We’ve never had any issues with our purchases from Bigfoot,” said Kobelka. “They always provide great products and great service.”

Westshore Terminals / Neptune Terminals in North Vancouver

Other Boscaro Products

In addition to the Boscaro dumping bin, West Shore also purchased several other key pieces of equipment from Bigfoot that have been put to good use on the Neptune project. “We needed a heavy duty spreader bar,” said Kobelka, “so we could lower a Komatsu 138 down into the hole. You can’t do that with just any spreader bar.”

West Shore bought the Boscaro 110-ton system and they’ve been using it steadily at Neptune.

“We’ve been craving a good quality spreader bar for a long time, and this one is holding up extremely well,” said Casper.

West Shore has come to expect the highest quality standards from Boscaro. “We’ve been using their man baskets for years,” Casper said, “and we recently bought another one from Bigfoot. For access in and out of these cells at Neptune, we regularly have to use man baskets off of the crane. They get used a lot, day and night, and we always keep one on hand, in case of emergency, if we need to do a rescue.”

For West Shore, the close working relationship with Bigfoot and the top-quality products from Boscaro continue to be indispensable at Neptune, one of their most challenging projects to date.

**This article was previously published in Modern Contractor (December 2020) and Equipment and Contracting (Vol 2, Issue 5). 

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Civil Rigging: Rigging Hitches - Choosing the Best Hitch for Your Lead

Civil Rigging: Rigging Hitches - Choosing the Best Hitch for Your Lead

Riggers need to be aware of various types of hitches, so that they can determine which configuration is best for the particular load they are lifting.

The four main categories of hitches are:

  1. Vertical hitch
  2. Bridle hitch
  3. Basket hitch
  4. Choker hitch

According to Ralf Notheis, Manager of Bigfoot Crane Academy, choosing the best hitch for a load is about ensuring stability. “When it comes to lifting loose material, long material, or anything else that’s difficult to balance,” says Notheis, “the rigger needs to be able to decide the best hitch to keep that load intact and secure.”

Within each category of hitches, there are variations that provide flexibility regarding the size and shape of the load. For example, certain hitches include multiple slings, which can be configured to maximize stability and minimize slipping or tilting.

For certain loads, especially those with loose bundles of objects such as pipes, particular hitches are required. Riggers need to know these requirements, so that they can quickly and confidently determine what hitch is needed in any given situation.

In cases when riggers are actively using multiple slings to lift loads, it is also very important to secure all unused sling legs when changing hitch configurations.

In Bigfoot’s Civil Rigging Course, riggers become familiar with the various types of hitches, and they are given practice in choosing the best configuration in a variety of scenarios.

The goal of Bigfoot’s training is to help riggers work safely and efficiently. Rigging hitches is just one of the many areas that riggers are educated about, so that they can bring confidence and professionalism to their job sites.

To learn more about how to choose the best hitches for your loads, enroll in our Civil Rigging Course by clicking the button below.


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Civil Rigging: Inspecting your Rigging - Checking Equipment with Confidence

Inspecting Civil Rigging – Keys to Safety

Inspecting Civil Rigging: Inspecting your Rigging - Checking Equipment with Confidence

Inspecting civil rigging should be something every rigger nows how to do. They also need to be able to check their equipment with confidence to determine whether it is safe and ready to use or it is unsafe and in need of removal.

According to Ralf Notheis, Manager of Bigfoot Crane Academy, there are basic standards for every piece of equipment that riggers use on a regular basis. “It’s essential for riggers to know the rejection criteria for hooks, shackles, and slings,” says Notheis. “If they don’t, then they’re putting themselves and others at risk of using damaged and dangerous rigging equipment.”

Most rigging hardware comes with the manufacturer’s name and specifications on it and should not be used if this information cannot be found or if the condition of the hardware does not meet the specifications. There are dependable ways to check for wear, cracks, corrosion, and deformation, so that unreliable equipment can be discarded.

In Bigfoot’s Civil Rigging Course, every rigger is taught how to identify not only if their equipment meets the basic standards of use, but also if it’s being used in the proper way. “Using the right hardware incorrectly,” says Notheis, “is as dangerous as using damaged equipment.”

An educated and equipped rigger is able to spot sling angles and hook connections that are incorrect. They are also able to identify makeshift fitting when they see it, so they can either avoid its use or determine whether it has been certified by a professional engineer.

Once again, the point of Bigfoot’s training is to keep riggers safe on the job. Defective equipment is the most common cause of accident and injury when performing lifts. However, using the right hardware in the right way makes rigging safe and efficient.

To learn more about inspecting civil rigging with confidence, enroll in our Civil Rigging Course by clicking the button below.


Sign Up Now